11/04/2022, 09.32
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Russian economists propose a return to Stalin's five-year plans

by Vladimir Rozanskij

State requisition of assets privatised after the collapse of the USSR under consideration. The country is experiencing a crisis stemming from the war in Ukraine and related Western sanctions. Kaysin Khubiev and Ivan Tenjakov: return to centralised control the only way to promote the war economy desired by Putin.



Moscow (AsiaNews) - The head of the Russian Union of Entrepreneurs and Producers, Aleksandr Šokhin (see photo), has responded to the arguments of economists who have criticised in recent days the economic model derived from post-Soviet privatisation, considered the fatal mistake that led Russia to international marginalisation and humiliation. Over the past 20 years, in fact, Russia's economic growth has appeared much slower than that of China and the US, and other more developed countries.

The diagnosis of a systemic disease of the Russian economy is increasingly spreading among commentators, becoming mainstream among unaligned economists. The state allegedly promoted wild privatisations, without adequate control: a phase of war between the oligarchs ensued, which then produced the Putin authoritarian turn. Today, Mgu University professors are proposing a cure that looks like a return to the planned economy of Soviet socialism.

The idea would be to 'give more to the state', against the backdrop of the serious problems of industrial production and its military reconversion, in order to provide weapons and equipment for the soldiers, who are now in serious deficit. This new orientation should be accompanied by a profound judicial reform, and replace the ownership of strategic enterprises by nationalising them through the actions of a special Economic Coordination Council.

The reference model is even the Stalinist model of the Committee for the Defence of the State, when from the 1930s onwards the USSR carried out the greatest industrialisation and transformation of agriculture, science and the whole of Soviet society. A process that came after the liberal decade of the 'New Economic Policy' (NEP), initiated by Lenin to revive Russia and the entire Union following the First World War. According to Professors Kaysin Khubiev and Ivan Tenjakov, in their article on 'Political Economy Matters', the low GDP growth over the past 30 years, not more than 20-25%, would justify this new 'dekulakizatsija', imitating the Stalinist elimination of the kulaks, the enriched peasants.

Analysing the strategic aims of technological development, proposed by President Putin in June this year, the two scholars come to the conclusion that only forceful action on the part of the state can achieve them, through five-year plans with budgets imposed from above. These plans would also become compulsory for private industry and stop the flight of capital abroad, to pour into investments within the country's economy.

Statehood would thus take place not directly as an expropriation, but as a redefinition of property through competitions, with investments meeting the needs of the state economy. The new masters, including the state itself or workers' collectives, would compensate the dispossessed owners with the means resulting from the new productive approach.

Šokhin reports the entrepreneurs' opposition to the economists' plan, which he describes as 'an effect of the post-Covid syndrome', and calls for a credible way out of the economic crisis, which is becoming increasingly rampant due to uncertainty about the future in the wake of the war and sanctions. A shift to a 'war economy', according to Šokhin, does not mean a return to the Soviet one, although he admits a much more decisive role for the state.

The mobilisation is changing the labour market, and assigns corporate ownership a much more institutional role, as the rector of the Rankh Presidential University, Vladimir Mau, explains: 'We don't have a problem with the market economy, and there are no analogies with the collapse of the Soviet economy in the 1980s: we made mistakes, but today we just have to resist the sanctions, and start again with new markets and new production'.

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